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Free checking has become a part of the past at some of the nation's biggest banks, but Bankrate's 2011 Credit Union Checking Study shows that consumers can still get their checking at no cost at many credit unions around the country.

"One of the reasons that free checking is disappearing is because many institutions were making a lot of money on ATM and debit cards, overdraft protection, and they need to make up the lost profits," says Tom Berquist, senior vice president of member strategies at BECU, a credit union based in Washington. "Since we never allowed these types of overdrafts, we're not looking to replace it."

Consumers will find more than free checking at credit unions.

"Credit unions have taken great strides to alleviate the challenges of a more limited product line, and limited branch and ATM networks," McBride says.

Todd Pietzsch, BECU spokesman, says that his credit union participates in a shared branch and ATM network with other credit unions, which give members access to more than 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide and more than 3,900 other credit union locations.


 

 

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